China Creates SEZ for Medical Tourism

by on April 3, 2017 at 8:22 am in Law, Medicine | Permalink

The Chinese government have set up a special economic zone for medical tourism.

Hainan Boao Lecheng international medical tourism pilot zone, the first of its kind in the country, was approved by the State Council in 2013. It enjoys nine preferential polices, including special permission for medical talent, technology, devices and drugs, and an allowance for entrance of foreign capital and international communications.

The pilot zone also has permission to carry out leading-edge medical technology research, such as stem cell clinical research.

The zone, for example, offers a way to skirt the slow Chinese FDA (and presumably the slow US FDA as well).

Established in 2013, the Hainan program will open up new treatments–including Keytruda–to affluent Chinese residents who can afford the travel and medical costs, while other patients will have to wait for regulators to approve them. In recent years, mainland Chinese patients have increasingly traveled to Hong Kong or elsewhere in the face of lagging drug approvals by the China FDA and high treatment costs.

The zone is too small to have a significant impact on worldwide R&D but China’s original SEZs soon expanded. The SEZ could also encourage some interesting experiments. Keep an eye out for billionaires who travel to the island for a holiday and emerging looking younger and healthier.

1 AndrewL April 3, 2017 at 8:46 am

I hear the SEZ will offer the *best* dumplings. 😉

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472458/

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2 Thiago Ribeiro April 3, 2017 at 8:54 am

“Established in 2013, the Hainan program will open up new treatments–including Keytruda–to affluent Chinese residents who can afford the travel and medical costs, while other patients will have to wait for regulators to approve them.”

This kind of unbearanle unfairness will make the people rise against their masters. A spectre is haunting China — the spectre of communism. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of China, unite!

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3 Ray Lopez April 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

Indeed. In China btw, they don’t train general physicians but physicians for a particular disease. In the USA, the same happens in practice but not in medical school, meaning you learn about the entire body in medical school in the West, but then ‘specialize’ after residency. In China, from what I hear, they train you from the beginning to be a specialist. That’s why doctors are cheaper to train overseas. When I was in Tibet, and got mountain sickness, a young ‘doctor’ of this specialized sort diagnosed me based on temperature (apparently mountain sickness sufferers have a particular feverish temperature) and gave me oxygen. But he did not speak much English and seemed to me more of a nurse than a doctor, by Western standards.

Long story short: major operations, do them in the West. Minor stuff (hernia, routine angioplasty, broken bones, maybe a hip replacement, routine Stage 1 cancer), you can do in China, if you’re on a budget.

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4 Thiago Ribeiro April 3, 2017 at 11:22 am

In Brazil, doctor must undergo a long and complex generalist training before undergoing a long and complex specialization training. Brazilian doctors are among the best in the world.

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5 Bunker Brown April 3, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Too bad there aren’t enough of them and you have to import semi-literate quacks from Cuba

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6 Thiago Ribeiro April 3, 2017 at 3:39 pm

They are not semi-literate (there are also Brazilian and European doctors participating of the “Mais Médicos” program, but they don’t annoy the far-right as much, I fear). After Mrs. Rousseff’s leftist government was overthrown, the programme was review by the new rulers and it was proved that it is actually a cost-effective way to provide healthcare (Brazil opted for universal healthcare instead of healthcare only for the rich and powerful topeople in Brazil’s vast hinterland (suffices to say that the Roman Empire in all its glory was smaller than Brazil).

7 Bill April 3, 2017 at 9:08 am

If you read the article what it looks like is simply that they can bring in foreign FDA approved devices and FDA cleared drugs that have not yet been cleared through the Chinese regulatory system.

From google searches:

The zone offers: “Fast-track approval for new drugs, technology and medical devices
Extending up to three years the time foreign physicians are allowed to practice medicine
Allowing 100% foreign direct investment and ownership in hospitals
Reduction of tariffs on certain medical devices and equipment
The goal is for the Pilot Zone to become a leading medical and wellness destination in the next 7-10 years with first-class healthcare infrastructure and services. It is expected that in the next several years, 10% of overnight visitors to the Pilot Zone will be medical tourists, accounting for 20% of Hainan’s tourism industry revenue.”

From a 2014 article on this special economic medical tourism zone:

“Lu Zhiyuan, director of the Hainan Tourism Development Committee says Hainan Island has a unique advantage for developing medical tourism.

“Hainan Island has very good air quality, very pure water, blue sky and ocean. Currently the pm2.5 in Boao is at 4.”

The Director of The National Health and Family Planning Commission, Li Bin, says China has further advantages in the development of international medical tourism, with its rich resources, quality medical service, low costs, and even Chinese traditional medicines.

“Through developing medical tourism, the health service industry and tourism industry will be linked together. That will be favorable to the country’s economic transformation and upgrading, and it will also provide more job opportunities, meanwhile, it will make Chinese medical institutions take steps to adapt to international demand, so that the overall standard of medical service will be enhanced.”

Li Bin adds that the International Medical Travel Zone in Hainan is taking the lead in the mission the healthy development of the health service industry. The government is allowing several privileges and policies in the trial zone.

Overseas medical institutions will be allowed to set up business within the zone. Other preferential policies will include lower taxes for imported medical instruments and medicines, and some frontier medical programs will be allowed.

Medical tourism, which combines travel with leisure and healthcare, is already popular in some Asian countries and regions like Singapore and Hong Kong.

Former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke says he believes the Bo’ao Lecheng International Medical Travel Zone is promising.

“The island of Hainan is an extremely attractive place, so the concept of bringing together the best western medicine, specialists and Chinese medicine here in this great new center, it’s absolutely a magnificent concept. And I’m absolutely sure it’s going to be an outstanding success, because it has what people need, and it will be great for the economy of Hainan, and it would be good for China.”

I think you are reading too much into the article. I haven’t found additional information other than this article on this zone.

If you are looking for a tan and some traditional Chinese medicine it might be worth a try,

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8 Bill April 3, 2017 at 9:09 am

Delete: second sentence from the bottom since I did find a few other articles, which are quoted above.

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9 Bill April 3, 2017 at 9:10 am

I think it is also interesting that they advertise the air quality as a prime feature of the zone.

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10 Axa April 3, 2017 at 10:01 am

They have all SouthEast Asia as clients, well thought.

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11 Tom T. April 3, 2017 at 10:04 am

“Come here to skirt the FDA and participate in some interesting experiments!”

It sounds like someone high up in the Party hierarchy read “The Island of Dr. Moreau” and took it as a how-to.

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12 Bill April 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Tom,

If you look at the material I found on a google search about this you will see it is to avoid Chinese taxes on devices and to bring FDA approved devices in the country without having to go through Chinese regulatory approval.

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13 rayward April 3, 2017 at 10:08 am

Another instance of China reaching out to other countries as America turns inward and away from other countries.

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14 Bunker Brown April 3, 2017 at 2:57 pm

No…China is setting up an SEZ. America can’t do it because too many entrenched nanny staters would put the kibosh on it, not to mention the sue-lobby that would be aghast at not having the ability to litigate.

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15 Paul April 3, 2017 at 3:57 pm

How about Medicare paying for US patients going there for approved treatments and facilities on condition it saves 50%? That could be Trump’s new plan!

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16 Paul April 3, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Or other countries, depending on same conditions of care…

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17 Alain April 3, 2017 at 10:17 am

It’s a long road to China being #1, but this could help.

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18 marc April 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Might this be case where competition has a real and substantial effect on our own agency to streamline operations and get out of the way so to speak?

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19 Andao April 3, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Why go to Hainan when Thailand already offers the same thing + Facebook and English?

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20 Ron W. April 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

While we’re deregulating here in the US, we should try this approach.

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